Katie Keith from Barn2 joins the podcast to discuss her recents success running a WordPress & WooCommerce plugin business.
- Transitioning from client services to product business takes forethought about your ideal lifestyle and abilities.
- Know if you want to manage a team before diving in. Build a remote team culture by regularly checking in, being flexible, and celebrating shared wins – not just revenue goals.
- SEO success requires a balance between optimization best practices and creating content real humans love. Don’t over-optimize.
- Consider both logic and marketing impact before splitting brands and websites. Domain authority has tangible value.
- Providing bundled offerings can ease plugin pricing fatigue for customers with diverse needs.YouTube and content marketing are powerful sales drivers.
- Invest in what already works for your business.
- 0:00 Intro
- 1:00 Katie’s background
- 3:00 Transitioning from agency to product company
- 8:00 Remote team culture
- 10:30 SEO strategies
- 13:00 Document Library Pro success
- 15:00 Evaluating business models
- 17:00 The state of WooCommerce
- 21:00 Matt’s SEO frustrations
- 23:00 Marketing through content
- 25:30 Plugin pricing and bundles
- 28:00 Lifetime licenses debate
- 31:00 Podcasting strategies
- 35:00 Investing in YouTube
- Barn2 Plugins – https://barn2.com
- WP Product Talk Podcast
- Ellipsis Marketing
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[00:01:01] Matt: Hey katie. Welcome to the program
[00:01:03] Katie: Hey, thanks for having me.
[00:01:06] Matt: katie keith barn2. com was it barn2plugins. com at one point. Did you have that domain?
[00:01:13] Katie: I think we own it. We never used it. We were barn2. co. uk, which was very short sighted of us, not realizing we would end up going global. So then we switched to com.
[00:01:26] Matt: and then your brand name, Barn 2 Plugins, I, you know, as I talk about you in the space and other folks have referenced you, they always just say Barn 2. Do you like Barn 2 or do you go Barn 2 Plugins as the whole brand name?
[00:01:39] Katie: I’m kind of happy with either. It’s about context, really. So if people know us Bhan2, if they don’t know we’re a plug in company, then I’ll say Bhan2 Plugins. So, for example, if we were sponsoring a WordCamp, then the logo on the front would have plug ins, because that tells them we’re a plug in company.
[00:01:57] Matt: Very cool. so look, I, you’ve had this. meteoric rise in WordPress media fame, right? You’ve been on, you do more WordPress podcasts than I do. I see you in every video, every summit that’s happening. I want to dive into that strategy, but I’m curious, what does the legacy of Katie Keith look like to you when you’re operating this business, seemingly growing, having a very strong opinion on WordPress WooCommerce development?
[00:02:29] business in general. Do you ever stop and evaluate what that legacy looks like for you?
[00:02:37] Katie: I am not really great at having long term strategies. I kind of try to maximize things either way, like I don’t know what I want to do in a few years. I know I don’t want to be acquired in the near future, but longer term, I don’t know if I want to keep running the business, pass it to my daughter.
[00:02:56] So when I, if I want to retire early in a few years, maybe when my daughter is ready to leave home, which is six years away, I genuinely don’t know. So I suppose I’m working at the moment to make it as successful as I can do, with all of those goals in mind, because actually the path to all of those goals is fairly consistent.
[00:03:17] If you think about it, it’s maximizing value of the company, the profile, and in the short term, sales.
[00:03:24] Matt: I want to talk about that, later on in this discussion about looking at the, the business. I don’t want to say, like, jumping off point, but I’m looking at your website right now. You have 23 plugins, that, that you create. I want to talk about expanding that, you know, in the future, how you have risen to, sort of this, content marketing presence across podcasts, videos, summits, being interviewed the various different ways that brands like I’m thinking web hosting companies and other big plugin companies do things.
[00:03:58] Was that a strategy? You said you weren’t. Really planning not one for planning ahead for the future But it seems like there was a pretty methodical plan to to get into all of these areas Or did you just happen upon this and and and people keep inviting you back not that they wouldn’t that sounds wrong Like not that they wouldn’t but you know, it wasn’t a plan to begin with
[00:04:19] Katie: it was funny. Content management product wise and keyword wise has been excellent for many years. I think that comes from the fact that my husband’s a software developer, whereas I’m a more of a marketing background. So we’ve always been very strong on the SEO. And if you Google pretty much anything to do with WooCommerce, how to do something in WooCommerce, you’re quite likely to find us.
[00:04:42] For example, often I’m Googling something and I know my website doesn’t have the answer. We come up. I’m like, no, I want something new. but that’s different to what you’re referring to, which is more sort of personal brand, I suppose. And that has come largely as a result of WordCamp US last year. So that’s 2022 San Diego, where it was an interesting one.
[00:05:06] I had a fantastic time, but most of the people that were from bigger companies or. largely people whose businesses have been acquired. And that was kind of shortly after the whole huge rush of acquisitions that happened in WordPress, which has slowed down a bit now. So I was spending all this time with really cool people, but they all had this thing in common, which I didn’t.
[00:05:30] And I started to feel a bit kind of threatened by that. So I’m like, hang on, is it okay to be independent? I felt like the odd one out, which was a bit irrational because All the people that weren’t at WordCamp US were like independent. It’s just that there was a really limited number of tickets and so the big companies, plus really organized people like me, happened to snap them up.
[00:05:52] So, but the outcome was I spent all these time with people who’d been acquired and… Sort of started thinking I needed to prove myself as an independent product company owner. So after that I did things like join Twitter and start going on more podcasts and things and sort of just trying to kind of raise the profile in that sense.
[00:06:12] Because I didn’t have that extra support that you get when you’re part of a massive company like a hosting company who’s acquired you or something. Sometimes I
[00:06:23] Matt: That was specifically what But that was specifically what you looked at and said, oh, they have maybe let’s say the financial backing, the engineering backing, a bigger team backing. It wasn’t that you looked at them as, hey, they got acquired and I want to do that too.
[00:06:38] Katie: No, it was actually the opposite. I thought they were mad. I spent, I was talking to them about their stories and they kind of had their reasons, but it just didn’t talk to me at all. I just thought, why would you want to have a boss? I’ve, I’ve had a boss in the past. Now I’m my own boss. I didn’t get it. So it didn’t make me at all tempted actually that lifestyle.
[00:07:02] it was more that it made me think, okay, well what does it mean in this day and age to be an independent product owner?
[00:07:10] Matt: I’m going to show my weakness in preparation for this meeting. But did, was your background, as an agency owner, is that how you, how you started the business? Thank
[00:07:19] Katie: Yeah, it’s fairly typical story. So 2009 we started off as an agency, barn to media. And, we did that till 2016 when we started selling plugins. and well, six. Stop taking on new clients. We still have some clients actually from way back, that we still look after, but we haven’t taken on new clients in seven years now.
[00:07:46] Matt: If you were to jump in a time machine and go back seven years, do you feel like you’ve achieved where you thought you wanted to get, get to when you were, you know, grinding what I’ll call paycheck to paycheck as an agency owner, as a former recovering agency owner myself, knowing exactly what that’s like?
[00:08:03] do you look at yourself now and say, okay, yeah, I feel like I, I achieved where I, or, or,exceeded where you wanted to be when you looked at yourself seven years ago?
[00:08:12] Katie: I think so. Yeah. I’d say exceeded because, while, lifestyle wise, it’s better than being an agency, but it’s not like the dream necessarily, because I have responsibility for a team of people and quite a high workload. My workload’s higher than it has to be because I choose to keep building the business, and if I wanted to run it semi passively, I could.
[00:08:34] I just… enjoy what I do. So I keep going. But in terms of like a revenue, for example, I never imagined it could have got where it has. it just from the agency, it grew a lot more slowly and there was always a ceiling with agency work based on some kind of capacity cap you’d get to. So first it was like mine and my husband, Andy’s capacity in building the website.
[00:08:59] And then after that, it was like we’d outsourced and it was our team of developers are kind of freelance developers capacity. And then after that, it was, I started to hire project managers because I couldn’t manage them anymore. And that was kind of a disaster. And that was when we reached a true ceiling and realized we would never be happy to have other people managing our web design projects.
[00:09:25] Matt: And therefore we couldn’t grow anymore. Ever. And then we kind of switch to products as a new direction. What was the biggest challenge for that project management side of it? Was it the project managers just not having the voice of ownership like you and your husband? Was it that they weren’t sort of fully, enveloped in, in like WordPress world and what this all meant was that biggest challenge with outsourcing project management?
[00:09:49] Because I know. I did the same thing as you. I started crawling the agency, and I was like, Okay, need to offload this, and then, when you started bringing in project management, Management, which you would think would be the sort of easiest to mold into the situation, versus like, a new designer, or a new developer.
[00:10:05] I always found project management to be difficult because They didn’t know our business. They didn’t know the customer’s business, and then they didn’t know how to meet that in the middle In an effective fashion. That was my take on it. What was your take on it?
[00:10:18] Katie: Yeah, if I had put a hell of a lot more time and hired full time project managers, then it might have been doable. So one of the barriers was that I didn’t really want to do that. It took me a very long time to accept that I had to be a manager of people and I’m used to it now, but I put it off for many years.
[00:10:39] Including at that point. So, but also we weren’t really a big enough agency to justify in house full time project managers. I think the revenue was something like 10, 000 British pounds a month, which is what, 12, 000 or so. So that wouldn’t really cover much in the way of in house staff. So we always were profitable because we’d be using freelancers when projects came in.
[00:11:04] So we would make it profitable. But if we started hiring staff, then that creates much more pressure. Just with client work and having people in house that you fully onboarded. It’s really hard because you have to have X number of projects per month just to pay your staff bill, don’t you? And I know that’s kind of the case with selling plugins, but it’s not really cause you’ve got the whole renewal thing and it is much more passive way of the money coming in.
[00:11:32] You don’t have to hustle to get every, sale, do you? It’s just your website’s there and so on. And the renewals really help to pay the team costs and make it more sustainable.
[00:11:44] Matt: I promise we’re gonna get to talking about selling your plug in business. I want to just keep one more thread of thought on this managing people agency versus Plug in business. I’m sure it’s the same. It’s I’m sure there’s a similar thread of complexity and advantage disadvantage or whatever But I remember running my agency thinking that culture, agency culture with the team was success, right?
[00:12:09] Success of the agency. Hey guys, we’re all in this together, right? And by together I mean we’re all growing this agency trying to get to the next revenue number because wouldn’t it be great if we get to the next revenue number and then I could bring another developer on or another,designer on to help offset that balance to me.
[00:12:28] Culture was in growing the business, which I felt was okay. Not totally wrong, but majority, majority, it was wrong for, for the folks. They were like, I don’t care about growing your business. I want X, Y, Z, and all these other things out of business. Is that a similar lesson you, you found, or is there another thread that you pull on that says, this is what culture means.
[00:12:52] In our business today, barn to plugins or barn to media. Where did you find culture fit?
[00:12:59] Katie: I kind of let it happen fairly naturally, which you’d think might not work, but we did. it was about six months ago. I, I think I read a book about business strategy and it said, survey your team. What is it like to work for your company? And I thought, wow, I don’t know. I just hire people when I need them.
[00:13:19] What is it like to work for Bantu? It’s distributed, the people are just like on Slack talking to each other. I don’t actually know what it’s like. So, I was going to do a survey and I just asked on Twitter. What questions should I ask? But then, James Giroux, who was just launching Team WP, came forward and offered to feature it as a case study to help him build his new business, Team WP.
[00:13:44] So he ran his kind of culture, what’s he called, team culture index survey on Barn 2 as an experiment, and it went to 15 team members, and it was a much more objective way of Establishing that. And it was really amazing. The results were fantastic. He’d done a WordPress wide survey to benchmark how happy people are at various elements of their job.
[00:14:10] And we were above in pretty much all areas, which was amazing because we just had this, laissez faire approach to building the team and, I guess, I mean, we respond to people’s needs when they need it, and we do calls to check in with them, and things that feel like common sense, but we’ve never really come up with these kind of what I would call bureaucratic policies and things, like in a large organization it’s all HR and paperwork, and…
[00:14:40] Checklists and we don’t have any of that. We just do what feels right, but the team were happy. We have very low staff turnover, so it seems to work and in terms of what you said about celebrating revenue We tend to celebrate more soft successes like a positive review Last week we won Two Seshies in the WooSesh Awards, which was store of the year and one of our products, WooCommerce product options was extension of the year.
[00:15:09] So that was a real thing for the team to celebrate. we celebrate meeting up at word camps and things like that. And, rather than like revenue goals, which unless I’m giving them all a bonus as a result of that, they’re not going to be that celebrating of it, are they?
[00:15:26] Matt: right, right, right. so what we’ve done in, in 15 minutes is sort of, encapsulated. Sort of this eight years to probably decade long journey you’ve been on from going from whatever freelancer to, boutique agency to agency to product company. It all sounds like it was a pretty successful up into the right, success curve as, as business objectives.
[00:15:49] We’ll look at it. Is there something that you really had to sacrifice to really, to get to where you’re at today with barn to that the listener can maybe resonate with long hours. changing direction in a career. In other words, people might look at you and say, Well, that was easy. I can do that too. And there’s something that, Yes, you can, but it’s a, It’s not an easy road to, to travel.
[00:16:14] Is there something that you feel like maybe you sacrificed, gave up on? Or something that was ultimately really challenging through this?
[00:16:22] Katie: For me, it suits me and I’m happy with the way my work has grown, but my husband, Andy, was probably more happy. with his work as an independent developer where he had full control over his own products and so he’s found it harder than me. So I suppose somebody looking in needs to think what sort of person are they?
[00:16:45] Do they want to build a team? Because if you have a product and it’s successful You kind of are forced to build a team. At the very least you’re going to need people for support because you try to do it yourself. Everybody does it. And then you’re getting like 30 requests a day and you’re still doing it yourself and you’re really quick and nobody else could ever be as good as you.
[00:17:06] But at some point there’s a huge opportunity cost and you’re going to have to hire somebody and trust them to communicate with your customers. And not everybody would enjoy that kind of work. And there’s other areas as well that you may not enjoy letting go off. So you need to think what kind of person are you and what would you, would you relish that growing of the team or would you not?
[00:17:31] Matt: Yeah, is Andy in the room right now?
[00:17:33] Katie: No, I have a separate apartment I work in. He works
[00:17:36] Matt: Okay?
[00:17:37] Katie: at home and I have an apartment.
[00:17:38] Matt: Okay All right, there we go. So secrets of success right there So you I think I remember seeing you tweet that You you have a you rent an apartment as like as one would rent a co working space like I have a co working space I’m not in it today, but you rent a separate apartment
[00:17:53] Katie: yeah, kind of. I own it, but basically, because we moved from the UK to the island of Mallorca, our family need to come and visit, and what we couldn’t afford a house, that was big enough for everybody to stay in. So, and in the end, some family members kind of donated some money to buy this apartment, which has, so when they want to visit, then I work at home with Andy.
[00:18:16] So it was a really good arrangement that when no one’s visiting, I get this lovely apartment to work in. but the, our family can stay like five minutes drive from us when they come as well.
[00:18:27] Matt: I feel like Andy when the, when the, when the family comes in and he’s like, I got to keep my office clean. Katie’s going to be home. She’d be working with me. They’re going to see what I’m usually doing. that’s fantastic stuff. Let’s talk about, the business of WooCommerce, where you’re at with plugins.
[00:18:41] I also think I remember seeing you tweet something about, because, you know, from the, when, when you started coming onto the scene and I started seeing more of you, I just initially thought, what, what Katie and team has built is a suite of WooCommerce solutions. But you said that there’s a plugin that you’re actually better known for that isn’t WooCommerce.
[00:19:01] Katie: Yeah. Our most successful plugin right now is. document library pro, which is a WordPress document library plugin, which kind of evolved out of some of our earlier plugins that we discovered that that was something that we should build a plugin for, and that’s our biggest, but then apart from that, we’re, you know, most of our bigger plugins are WooCommerce, so we’ve got something like.
[00:19:23] 19 WooCommerce plugins and four, non WooCommerce, but we can’t, because of the success of Document Library Pro, we can’t say we’re a WooCommerce company like Iconic or somebody like that who have a much clearer identity.
[00:19:39] Matt: Do you ever feel like you should split off the identities into their own? Well, you could probably maybe keep like the collection of WooCommerce. Plugins in barn too, but maybe spin off document library into its own brand and and go at that route Or is it you know you happy where it’s at right now.
[00:19:56] Katie: I have wondered that because it makes sense logically, but I don’t know what the impact on sales would be because by having one domain, it’s Got quite good domain authority. So when we publish content, it ranks fairly easily, even if it’s kind of relatively competitive. And if we started from scratch with a new domain, that would be really hard for document library pro, but also in a marketing sense.
[00:20:23] Most of our sales come through our blog posts or our YouTube videos or something like that. So having a separate website wouldn’t actually necessarily mean we have more sales. People don’t come to us that often as far as I know because with Barn2, they Google a need, a problem. I need to create an order form in WooCommerce.
[00:20:44] I need to create a document library, whatever. And they find our content. So in… I feel that the logic would be good for the WordPress community, like for WordCamp sponsorships, for example, it would be much clearer. For a podcast like this, I could say what I do more clearly, but what is actually the business benefit of splitting it?
[00:21:07] Matt: Yeah Just a side rant. I hate SEO right now Like I’ve been like I’ve never really focused on SEO other than just Making content and saying like, here’s a title. I’ve used some keywords throughout this, throughout this article and video podcast, whatever it is that I’m doing, but I’ve just been trying to evaluate it more lately since the decline of social media.
[00:21:29] is more prevalent these days, especially from like Twitter. And I just, man, SEO, I I’m, I don’t even want it to like, like you, maybe with the brand and the business and the same website, like I’m afraid to touch things. I saw Yost talk about like, just go and delete all these. Articles that aren’t like serving anything up anymore, but keep the links.
[00:21:48] I’m like, I don’t what does that even mean? Keep the links. I gotta build like a robot state. What am I doing with this? and I just hate it because there’s people there are people that I feel like they like know it really well and are like Gaming the system and they’re ahead of the curve and then there’s dinosaurs like me who are just like I just want to write Good content and have people read it.
[00:22:07] That’s all I want to do I don’t know if you feel that same way about SEO or if you’ve been diving into it recently
[00:22:14] Katie: Well, of course, what you just described is Google’s aim in their algorithms. So their goal is for the same thing to benefit real people and their crawlers. But… In reality, that’s not always the same. For example, real people like to get to the point quickly, whereas I think quite logically, the algorithms are looking for like lots of key words, more content, longer articles.
[00:22:41] So that’s actually often a debate between Andy and myself, that he thinks our articles should be smaller. And I’m like, yeah, but if they don’t rank, then there’s no one on them. So what’s… if we don’t get the traffic. I work with ellipsis. I’ve got some marketing people in house, but I also outsource a lot to ellipsis and they use that Falcon AI to kind of, they do cool stuff that I don’t really understand about the data and they predict the probability that a new piece of content will rank and our new stuff does rank.
[00:23:13] It does seem to rank quicker when I use their, do it their way than if I just do something out of my own head. So it seems to work to have some science, but I don’t really want to know all the science personally.
[00:23:26] Matt: Trust me, neither do I. alright, back to the plug in business. Specifically talking about WooCommerce. WooCommerce is always an interesting topic. to me, I feel like it’s if you just like zoom out, look at either WordPress or Automatic as a whole, it’s still like that you know, for what I feel like that silent 800 pound gorilla in the room.
[00:23:45] We have Shopify publicly traded company in the U. S. I hear people when they say, well, want to build an e commerce store. I hear a lot of people just default to Shopify, Wix, Squarespace. I’m talking about, common folks of the world, not the WordPress Twitter sphere. and recently, this is a, this is a loaded question.
[00:24:03] I’m going to try to frame it for you. There’s a lot of pieces we can pull on. but I just saw, a tweet. Let me just pull it up from Rodolfo. I believe I’m pronouncing his name, semi correctly and I’m gonna have a, an interview with him here as soon. He states, he states on Twitter, noticing any drop in WooCommerce development client work this year?
[00:24:25] I’m 37 percent down so far compared to the same period in 2022. And then for context, he puts 2022 was up 31%, 2021 was up 7%. Probably the COVID jump right there with the increase in in client work And then he goes on to sort of break it down basically at the end of the at the end of the day he booked 1138 hours of development work last year 2022 He’s only at 914 hours so far this year for who commerce development work All of that is to say are you seeing any?
[00:25:01] Downs or any insights into the growth of, of WooCommerce, whether it’s plugins, people coming to buy from you agencies, giving you any feedback of like, Hey, WooCommerce development is down a little bit. Are you seeing that at all? Or is this maybe just a siloed event for Rodolfo?
[00:25:19] Katie: I think the best way to look is to look at something like built with that publishes stats The market share, but more importantly, the number of sites running things like WooCommerce. And I think it’s fairly stable. It’s certainly not climbing rapidly, but if you look at the curve, I think for both WordPress and WooCommerce, you see this massive leap at the in 2020, and then it kind of goes.
[00:25:45] I don’t know if it’s gone down, but it’s more stable. But if you draw a straight line through the whole of history and forget about the COVID bump, I think we’re probably where we would have been anyway. It’s just that COVID brought this huge acceleration in what people needing to sell online. We had a huge bump during COVID because we, have a restaurant plug in.
[00:26:07] And a lot of restaurants were suddenly having to take online orders and things. So we were, on the one hand, like, the school was closed and we couldn’t work the hours we wanted. And then there was this massive opportunity, to be taking, meeting the needs of restaurants and helping them. to sell online.
[00:26:25] So we definitely saw that. And then that plugin was doing, I don’t know, 15, 000 a month or maybe more. I’ve forgotten, but now it’s doing like very, very little, because the restaurant they’re either online or they don’t need to sell online anymore. And it’s a much smaller market. And I think that was the case in e commerce quite more widely as well.
[00:26:48] So. I don’t know, maybe people were getting sites earlier, and as well as buying our plugins, Rodolfo was having more clients, and now it’s kind of settled. But I feel like his data doesn’t reflect what you would see on BuiltWith, in that it hasn’t gone down in terms of the number of installs, it’s just stabilized.
[00:27:10] Matt: Yeah, I’m always curious and something I should try to pay attention to. more of especially in the commerce world. I’m curious if you have any view on this, but I always feel like on one hand, like if I’m just a work and I’m going to talk about this and today we’re recording the day that I’m recording the five minute WP minute podcast that goes out.
[00:27:32] If you’re a freelancer agency owner, I’m always looking at. Okay, what’s the trends? What’s happening in the market in one hand? You might say, well, just building pro portfolio sites isn’t making me any money anymore. But this WooCommerce thing, one would naturally associate, hey, it’s a, it’s an e commerce store.
[00:27:47] Naturally, those clients are going to go make money with this website. Might be easier for me to sell value to somebody who’s about to make money with their website versus somebody who’s just using a website for a brochure site. but then I’m also curious, WooCommerce stores, are going to have the same success rate?
[00:28:05] Any small business might have, you might set out with high ambitions, high hopes to build this e commerce store, sell those gift certificates, sell those t shirts or whatever it is that you’re selling. But business is tough, right? It’s tough for everybody. So is there a correlation to the success of people running a business with WooCommerce to maybe fluctuations in sales that maybe you see?
[00:28:27] Or do you not see that because it’s mainly agencies and freelancers buying your products and… Whatever their customers are doing is out of your purview. Does that make sense? Is that a sensible question? Like, do you see the success of a business and maybe say churn rate or dips, the valleys of sales with the success of someone’s business?
[00:28:49] Katie: Our customers are fairly evenly split between actual store owners or website owners versus people building sites for somebody else, so we get both. So, we have like emails that send out if you don’t renew, for example, and people sometimes reply and say, My, I’m not making any money anymore, so I can’t afford to renew your premium plugin, or I’ve closed down my shop.
[00:29:16] Whereas other times a developer replies and says the client is. out of business or they’ve switched, moved away from WordPress or something like that. So we see both sides of that. But in terms of using WooCommerce versus say specializing in portfolio sites, the amazing thing about WooCommerce is it is easier to monetize because the goal is that it’s making the person money.
[00:29:42] By definition, because it’s for e commerce. So with a portfolio site, it’s an indirect way of helping somebody make money. It’s showcasing their work, which is one of many factors, which encourages somebody to hire them, say it’s a wedding photographer portfolio or something like that, whereas with a WooCommerce website, say selling.
[00:30:04] photos online, that is literally getting them sales. And so even if some of the businesses aren’t successful in the end, that would apply to any industry like the wedding photographer versus the Photoshop. But the Photoshop is likely to spend more money upfront because they will be selling using your plugin.
[00:30:25] Matt: I’m curious What your take is. This is a little bit of a hot seat questions. You can always say skip it if you, if you don’t want to answer it. just looking at the pricing structure of your plugins. I have two questions. First one is, how do you think as somebody who creates so many plugins? I see you have a two.
[00:30:44] Two plugin bundle, at least at, at the plugin I’m looking at. Do you ever think about, plugin cost fatigue on your customers? you know, they have to buy your plugins, they have to buy other people’s plugins before you know it. Now they’re up against like, well, maybe I should just go with, say, hosted, WooCommerce or hosted Shopify.
[00:31:04] because of costs. Do you ever evaluate that against the competition, at all, plug in cost fatigue to the customer?
[00:31:15] Katie: Well, we’ve, this week, we’ve relaunched our all access pass, which gets all 23 plugins for a much lower cost, like 87 percent cheaper, say, than buying individually. So if somebody does want multiple plugins to add all the functionality they need, they’re not expected to spend Then say 79 to 99 per plugin.
[00:31:36] They can spend like four or 500 and get everything that hopefully they’ll need to. Optimize their store. so I haven’t specifically done the exercise of comparing what you would pay on Shopify for the same combination. Cause everybody has such unique needs, don’t they? And with Shopify, you can spend a lot on add ons as well.
[00:31:57] It’s not like every feature they want is built in, or with, hosted WooCommerce generally there’s tiers and so on.
[00:32:05] Matt: Sure. Sure. Second hot seat question. I’m not letting you off just, just yet. WordCamp U. S. Matt Mollweg says, and I’m going to paraphrase it. I don’t want any more lifetime licenses. Notice you still have lifetime licenses. What’s your take on lifetime licenses?
[00:32:22] Katie: Well, did you see what he did? He then started selling a 100 year license. That’s a lifetime license! So, whatever. But, I don’t agree. actually, we’re talking about Rodolfo. He, he tweeted also this week that he was selling a plug in lifetime license for 29. And I replied and said, why are you doing that?
[00:32:44] So our lifetime licenses are costed at three and a half times what the annual cost. And that’s based on a calculation of the average customer lifespan, not their actual life, but their life using our plugin. And, we’ve added on, so.
[00:33:03] Matt: that Matt has to calculate. Literally the lifespan that he has to calculate of somebody.
[00:33:09] Katie: exactly. Yeah. So if the average user comes for three years, renews that many times, then we’re charging three and a half, so that we’re actually profiting and we also have the upfront cashflow. That’s a very different model of lifetime licenses from say, Code Canyon or something like that. And actually, Rodolfo, because he pushed back and said, His plugins are basically just code snippets packaged together nicely.
[00:33:36] They’re not fully featured plugins with tons of support and documentation. They’re much, much simpler. So he’s just selling it almost like you’d sell a pack of, graphic images, images, graphic river or something. It’s not really the same thing plugin. so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.
[00:33:55] If there’s a business case. behind it.
[00:33:59] Matt: You have, you’re the co host of WP Product Talk. You also appear on one of the 85 shows that Bob does on his network.
[00:34:09] Katie: There’s a lot now, yeah.
[00:34:11] Matt: No pod, yeah, no podcast, for Barn2. No official podcast that you want to just take over and be the, the, the voice of for the brand.
[00:34:19] Katie: Well, I’m co host of two, so that, and you, when you do it with other people, we don’t, I don’t have to be as big as you to get an audience. Because we benefit, like WP Product Talk has four, co hosts, each bring slightly different audiences, and so, in a way it’s easier to grow it, and also less, pressure.
[00:34:41] so I, it’s, you know, just something, my way of giving back to the community, really, it’s not like, Part of my business plan to do podcasts or anything like that. I haven’t put any physical resources into it or anything other than my time. So having people to do that with helps it grow faster and takes the pressure off me.
[00:35:02] Matt: Thoughts on, a YouTube channel and having, like, video tutorials and exploring that, that market?
[00:35:08] Katie: Yes, we have a full time video producer who’s been with us a year now. That was a
[00:35:14] Matt: I do, I do know that. Yes.
[00:35:16] Katie: Yeah, it was a bit of an experiment because we, I was looking at the, sales on Google Analytics from different sources, and I was surprised how much we were generating through YouTube, and so we thought, Andy and I thought, well, maybe we should really invest in it because it is the second biggest search engine.
[00:35:36] So we hired Sam, who’s been amazing and worked really autonomously. He gets a lot of data from our blog posts, sees what’s succeeding on the blog, what’s generating sales, and then he’ll create videos. And so they feed into each other and it’s quite evidence based. We have experimented a little bit with sort of being more general, like a Jamie Marshland channel or something is much more general, but you’ve got to put a lot of resources into that.
[00:36:03] So right now we’re mostly doing stuff about our own products.
[00:36:07] Matt: forty two hundred subscribers, two hundred and twenty videos. youtube. com slash at barn two plugins. Katie Keith, barn two dot com. find her on WP product talk. Bob’s network. Twitter. You put a lot of data, like you put, do a lot of tweets with data. Things on Twitter. I really appreciate that. It really helps get the insights, for us that, that follow you.
[00:36:32] I appreciate the time hanging out today.
[00:36:34] Katie: Yeah, it’s been good to talk. Thanks for having me.
[00:36:37] Matt: Thanks everybody for listening and we’ll see you in the next episode.
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